At my age, a lot of the things that used to get me excited don’t really do much for me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited. There are some things that get me as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning. There are some things that just don’t hold the kick they used to. That Farrah Fawcett poster I had when I was a kid still gives me a thrill, but it’s not the same kind of thrill I got back in the seventies. It’s close, but it’s not the same thing.
My wife told me about a new supermarket opening in our town today. It’s a big chain known for its “jump-through-flaming-hoops-for-the-customer” approach to customer service. It’s big and slick and still has the new store smell. She said she was going to take me after dinner. If you notice, I said she told me she was going to take me. The thought of asking wasn’t really on her agenda. She has been there three times already and wants to show me all around.
“There are free samples at the end of every aisle!” she told me.
I was thinking I shouldn’t have had that dinner if there were samples all over the place. I could have eliminated that local stop on the dinner train and taken the express. Readers of this column know I don’t cross my wife much and I don’t question her often. She is clearly the smarter and more mature party and generally knows best. She was right. There were samples all throughout the store. I had Key lime pie, fresh bread with goat cheese, something called chicken orzo, sweet tea, sushi, organic grass-fed steak (I thought all cows ate grass, but I’m no farmer), turtle cheesecake ice cream and a bunch of other stuff I had never heard of but I took because it was free. One thing really tasted dry and my wife told me I was eating a sample of a Dr. Scholl’s padded shoe insole. I think if I had some of that orzo stuff, even the insole would have been pretty good.
This is what I was getting at in the first place. We adults, especially those of us older folks, get pretty stoked over things that would bore most younger folks to tears. I doubt either of my daughters would get crazy over a supermarket opening. Our younger daughter accompanied my wife to the new store earlier and came home with a sampling of everything made in the bakery. The store itself, to quote her, was “meh.”
I found myself walking around the new store like a 10-year-old at Disney World. I was goggle-eyed and breathless. I walked each and every aisle, absorbing the vast range of products. I found condiments I could only find back home. I stood in the beer aisle and carefully studied each and every brand. In the wine section, a supermarket sommelier showed me around and explained how the department was organized and offered his services if I needed any assistance pairing a wine with a meal.
This was something to get excited about.
When I was a kid, Christmas was the pinnacle of excitement. All year long, I waited so everyone I knew would give me a bunch of stuff for free. I know, as an adult, that this is shallow and not the true meaning of the holiday, but you try to tell a 6-year-old that Christmas isn’t about presents and he’s gonna look at you like you have nine heads. I would start planning my Christmas list for the next year on the way home from my grandmother’s house in the car after having Christmas breakfast. What I didn’t get that year, I’d have to try for next year. I am a father and grandfather now, and the meaning for me is seeing my daughters and grandson enjoy their gifts. I get excited about being with friends and family and less excited about getting gifts. I still like free stuff, but I know it’s not about that.
I find myself getting excited about simpler things. I get excited getting the mail each day. I don’t mean win-the-lottery excited, but I get a little jolt out of the wonder of what might be in the mailbox. It’s not earth shattering, but I am a believer in getting the most out of the little things.
I still get excited, too, about seeing my name in the newspaper. It’s always a good day when your name is in the paper and it’s not in the police blotter or the death notices. Truth be told, I get a little thrill out of seeing the shares and likes on Facebook when the readers of this paper like the column. It’s not an ego thing, I assure you. I even got a little excited when I wrote some satire a few columns back and became the most disliked person in all of North Carolina.
I told my daughters a while back something that I will share with all of you. Sometimes, you have to find your joy instead of waiting for it to find you. If that means getting excited when a new supermarket opens in your town, that’s fine.
Every day isn’t Christmas, you know.
Contributing columnist and Baltimore native Joe Weaver is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.